30 Oct 2001 dto   » (Journeyer)

Shopping Report, Music Review, Bitchfest, and More

More shopping, more clothes and CD's. I'm entranced by Stereolab's Peng: the sequence of tracks 1-4 really gives me chills. Here and there the production reminds me of sounds Radiohead would use nearly a decade later on Kid A and Amnesiac. I found it hard to believe Peng was from 1992. And I love the weirdness of Mars Audiac Quintet.

I also picked up the latest full-length from Aphex Twin. Unfortunately, post-millennium, he has done exactly what Autechre did: gone from being one of the major innovating electronic artists of the 1990's to being a complete joke. There are precious few tracks worth listening to on this record, and none of them equal the melodic skill or production quality of his "middle period". Aggressive sample reuse gives the "ambient" tracks a very samey feel (vaguely oriental chimes in the vein of "Nannou", a B-Side from Windowlicker) and the orchestral piano pieces just fall flat.

The rest of the album is tired, mediocre drum-and-bass. The originality in drum arrangement, rhythmic composition, and sample creation that graced most previous efforts is gone here---the drum sounds are ripped from some old tracker's sample pack you might find on an obscure Scandinavian FTP site. And that shrill, dissonant "sample-rate conversion" effect is everywhere, hanging like a pall of smoke over the melodies---the obsession with certain facile, sonically homogenizing DSP effects that killed Autechre circa LP5 has finally snuffed out the last of 90's IDM's original megastars.

The awful truth for the elites who shunned melodists like Boards of Canada in favor of more "difficult" music: the glitch disease was terminal, the patient has died with the release of this album. Glitch-fetish and DSP-fuckery sapped attention from the first commandment of what we do---the idea that melody is music---and led the greatest electronic artists of a generation into the sorriest work of their careers. Bouncing-ball percussion is as worn-out as The Cher Vocal Effect.

Sitting in a dark, hollowed-out building somewhere under the Manhattan Bridge last year, at a show where Ariane and I had played a set earlier in the evening, watching kids actually try to dance along to Richard Devine, realizing that he'd been hovering over that PowerBook for more than an hour without producing anything resembling melody, chords, or steady rhythm----I knew, this can't seriously last. Well the iMac has crashed and all our Max patches are lost. Our Metasynth license expired, the Kyma's power supply burnt out, and glitch has imploded----in Helvetica Bold, leaving an angular plume of smoke, rendered in cubist fracture courtesy of The Designer's Republic (with a few symbols of Katakana thrown in for luck). The stench of burnt Atari or Decepticons logo t-shirts hangs over the wreck.

"Drukgs", like Autechre's awful "Confield", will probably have its staunch defenders among the elites. But don't be fooled--- don't waste your time with this flaccid and uninventive record.

How to hack + school at the same time?

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